Destination Uncovered | Mondulkiri, Cambodia
Cambodia is not just about Siem Reap and its surrounding Khmer Temples. If you put in some effort, in the form of a few hours in the care, you will be rewarded exponentially. Mondulkiri Province lies east of Phnom Penh; Sen Monorom the provincial capital is a rough six hours bus transfer away. In a way, this is what keeps it special with only the truly dedicated tourists making it there.
In a few words, Mondulkiri has it all. Waterfalls, elephants, indigenous villages and cultures, lush tropical jungle to hike and camp in, and small city that has all the good feelings.
Waterfalls. On a hiking trip, you can see three different waterfalls and swim in two! On a half day trip on a motorbike, you can visit the largest waterfall and other smaller but just as beautiful waterfalls.
Elephants. Mondulkiri has its share of "elephant sanctuaries". Chickenfeet Travels works with one of them which has two (soon to be three) elephants to bathe with in small groups. Aside from actually interacting with an elephant, the best thing about this day trip is learning just about everything about the elephants (local style, not "scientific" per se) and about the Bunong people who take care of them.
Indigenous villages and culture. The Bunong people are one of the indigenous people of Cambodia. Because Mondulkiri is so large, the Bunong are the minority but also the majority of this Province. The Bunong have always lived off the land, growing what they eat and hunting the rest; but since tourism has grown in Mondulkiri, efforts are being made to integrate Bunong into modern Cambodian society.
Hiking and camping. Mondulkiri sits in a perfect location; weather is cool enough to hike without overheating and hiking can be done all year round. The trekking in Mondulkiri isn't walking for the sake of walking; trekking through the jungles take you to waterfalls and elephants.
Sen Monorom. If you opt to stay in Sen Monorom, it is a great little city to be based for a few days. It is a great place to relax and in contrast, to take daily adventure to its surroundings. If you have been on the road for a few days, Sen Monorom has a few restaurants for a western fix.